India Bans Dolphin Captivity

Animal welfare groups in India have campaigned valiantly to ban the creation of proposed marine mammal parks and dolphinariums in their country. In a surprising victory, the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests released a decision on May 17th, 2013 regarding dolphin captivity, saying it is “morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purposes.” Also in the official government statement is the acknowledgement that various scientists researching dolphin behavior suggest that they be considered “non-human persons” due to their unusually high intelligence.

The significance of the “non-human persons” classification of dolphins is profound. It indicates that species other than humans can be deserving of rights due to their intelligence and sensitivity. This is a positive sign for animal rights proponents who assert that animals are not mere things to be owned but creatures able to experience pain, pleasure and other sensations similar to humans. Whereas some laws do exist that attempt to prevent unnecessary cruelty, animals are still considered property, devoid of the basic right to live without the interference of humans.

In Tiaji, Japan, dolphins continue to be captured and cruelly slaughtered in the infamous cove featured in the 2009 documentary, The Cove. Many of the captured are sold to marine parks where they are prized property because of their intelligent ability to master tricks. However, it is this same intelligence that has now convinced India, as well as Costa Rica, Hungary, and Chile to ban the captivity of dolphins, with hopefully more countries to follow.

Laurie Johnston is a graphic designer and the co-owner of Two Trick Pony. She advocates for animals and healthy food choices and blogs for Spirit of Change Magazine.

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